What books to read?

NOW THAT EXAMS ARE OVER..

This is a question I’m sure law students around Nigeria are asking themselves as they wait for Law School resumption. Or maybe not just them but you and I.  Although, I was on a study curfew, thoughts of what I’d read after exams were like therapeutic bites of silky, white chocolate squares. That’s until Tomiwa of Naija Girl on a Budget shared her thoughts on The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives and Crazy Rich Asians on her whatsapp status. It was a thrilling reminder of what I’d been denying myself–book lust, travel and wonder.

Asides reviewing the lessons life’s been teaching this September you can read these recommended books.

CLASSICS

I feel that some classics are classics for a reason. They’ll outlive us.-Atoke

Once upon a time works by Chinua Achebe, Buchi Emecheta  and Wole Soyinka were considered literary gold and classics. Yeah, that era hasn’t faded but there are now works which have become classics on their own.  Reading not so popular books by classic Nigerian novelists is never a bad idea. My insta-babe, ENKAY, took No Longer At Ease as her Tarkwa Bay weekend gateaway read. She said it’s Chinua’s most boring book. But I’m not here to recommend boring books.

  • The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin was my Cross River Tour read in December 2017. This book had me laughing out loud at the back of the travel senna speeding by fragrant cocoa and palm plantations on state highways..gosh! the irony. If you haven’t read it, it comes highly recommended. This story of Bolanle and her senior wives coded but dramatic lives is now a classic.
  • The Concubine by Elechi Amadi was one of the novels I read when I was reading old Nigerian books back in May. I thoroughly enjoyed this pre-colonial Nigerian lovers’ story tormented by mischievous gods and people and its unbelievable end.
  • Zara the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning children’s afrifuturistic novel about self love, discovery, adventure and alternate universes.
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was my second all time favourite romance novel as at August 2017. Its a moving tale of love lost and found in Latin America.
  • Independence by Sarah Manyika is that purple covered novel for Jamb’s Use of English. Its a story of love spanning decades, life, Nigeria’s birth and living with choices we make. A brilliant debut novel by one of my favourite female Nigerian writers.

BESTSELLERS

A few books that ranked and stayed bestsellers. There is a reason everyone, including me, has been delighted by their stories. Some of the one’s you should enjoy now?

  • Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. Ayobami Adebayo’s profound tale of Yejide and Akin Ajayi’s marriage will stay with you. With its engaging themes of love, desperation, loss, infidelity, family interference, loneliness and insecurity.
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi has stayed 25 weeks on the New York Bestselling List. Its a Young Adult Fantasy novel. Its the heart-trumping narration of Zelie quest to bring back magic to her homeland.
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan  is just as hilarious, motivating, outlandish, shocking like its trailer. But with more mystery underneath the glamour and madness. This novel was ranked one of the most overhyped books on bookstagram. Its adaptation is showing in Lagos cinemas. Reading this is wayy better lah! While you are at it, read the other two books in the trilogy; China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems. My book squad didn’t hear a thing until they’d read it. What? I couldn’t stop talking tormenting them about this trilogy.
  • Born A Crime by Trevor Noah has become one of the best selling memoirs in Nigeria since its release. Trevor Noah narrates growing up in apartheid South Africa.

“We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.”- Trevor Noah, Born A Crime.

NEW BOOKS

So you’d like new books ehn? Okay..here are some

  • Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born with one foot on the other side. It was my give-away novel for the blog’s first year anniversay.
  • An Abundance of Scorpions by Hadiza Isma El-Rufia charts one woman’s journey through grief and uncertainty to a road that leads to self discovery, redemption and love. I saw this novel first on Dasience’s bookstagram review post.
  • The Chibok Girls by Helon Habila; 4 years after 276 girls disappeared from a secondary school in northern Nigeria, kidnapped by the world’s deadliest terror group, Boko Haram. A tiny number escaped back to their families but almost two hundred remain missing. Reporting from inside the traumatized and blockaded community of Chibok, Helon Habila tracks down the survivors and the bereaved.(description from Rovingheights)
  • HOLD by Michael Donkor; Moving between Ghana and London, Hold is an intimate, moving, powerful coming-of-age novel. It’s a story of friendship and family, shame and forgiveness; of learning what we should cling to, and when we need to let go.
  • She Called Me Woman plumbs the depth of what it feels to be queer, a woman, and Nigerian, by revealing these realities via 25 raw, blatant, and intimate stories told in the first-person. This collection is edited by Azeenarh Mohammed, Chitra Nagarajan and Rafeeat Aliyu. (description from Brittle Paper)
  • +234 An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian by Atoke is an introduction to the Nigerian lifestyle and a reintrduction for Nigerians.

“If I find a book tedious, I’ll dump it. Life is too short and there are so many sweet books to read. The time available to read books  is so short – especially as an adult.”-Atoke.

SELF HELP, CAREER AND BUSINESS BOOKS

Did you think I was only going to give you fiction recommendations?

  • A Degree is not Enough by Ima Slip is a book that supports skill training. Ima Slip pens down the recipe of what you need to succeed in life,why it’s not the case that every degree owner is successful and why there so many people that have succeeded without the help of their degrees..(review from Rovingheights)
  • Olori Supergal by Oluwatosin Ajibade; Oluwatosin Ajibade mostly known as Olori Supergal is one of the most respected and credible voices in new media today.
    In Olori Supergal: From Social Misfit to Social Media Hero, she tells the story of her experience with abuse, struggles with academics, dealing with the challenges of being a young entrepreneur in Nigeria and growing her business (description from Rovingheights).
  • Slay In Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene isn’t called the Black Girl Bible for no reason. It’s basically a guide for black women on how to navigate the world, and a guide for non-white people to understand what it means to be up against a sexist and racist system. Read it!(review by Literandra)
  • Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu is still one of the best personal finance books with humorous but relatable characters written for women and men who live in Africa. The Smart Money Woman tackles, debt, spending, the fear and misconceptions surrounding money and the lack of it, love, friendships, cultural and societal pressures and the roles they play in success from an African perspective.
  • Dating Intelligently by Laju Iren; Have you’ve been getting the law school questions and marriage jokes like I have? This book is a common sense guide to courtship.
  • Working on a Dream by G. Fagbure is filled with lessons in life and business by the co-founder of Jumia and Supermart.ng

 

ROMANCE

Being a hopeful romantic I’ve got some love stories you should read.

  • Not Just An Interlude by Lara T. Kareem is a beautiful tale brimming with good vibes, stressing the values of friendship, love and being independent. Although, it was on my Did-Not-Finish reading list because of my exams, I’m loving Sewa, the heroine.
  • Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour is on my September TBR list. It’s a story of love, career pursuit, family and many other nuances of being queer by Nina Lacour. Whom I love so much, her writings are just refreshing, reflective and personal.
  • The Summer of Jordan Perez(and the best burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding is a phenomenonal, vibrant story of queer love, fashion (retail, design, blogging and photography), burgers, friendships and summer in LA. It’s one lesbian love story I really connected to its heroine, Abby Ives and her adventures.

“Every kind of book is a gift. Once acquired, read and use its lessons. Whether its a short story collection, novel of any genre, poetry chapbook, or even a notebook used to journal your past.”-Adaeze Feyisayo Samuel.

CRIME THRILLERS

From legal, detective to crime thrillers. These books are filled with determined heroes and action packed plots set in Nigeria.

  • Oil on Water by Helon Habila is a thriller and political fiction novel. From the desks of Nigeria’s newsrooms, two journalists are recruited to find the kidnapped wife of a British oil engineer. Zaq, an infamous media hack, knows what’s in store, but Rufus has no idea what he’s let himself in for (description from Goodreads).
  • Carnivorous City by Toni Kan: Rabato Sabato aka Soni Dike is a Lagos big boy; a criminal turned grandee, with a beautiful wife, a sea-side mansion and a questionable fortune. Then one day he disappears and his car is found in a ditch, music blaring from the speakers. Soni’s older brother, Abel Dike, a teacher, arrives in Lagos to look for his missing brother. Abel is rapidly sucked into the unforgiving Lagos maelstrom where he has to navigate encounters with a motley cast of common criminals, deal with policemen all intent on getting a piece of the pie, and contend with his growing attraction for his brother’s wife.(description from Google Reads) Adebola Rayo of The Book Banque criticized its lack of complex female characters who were overly sexualized in sexist narratives. The upside is the novel’s main character is Lagos herself and many bookstagrammers say it was an interesting read.
  • Easy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenle is set in contemporary Lagos, the story centres around a one-woman crusade to protect and empower the many women working as prostitutes in the city. I say “centres around”, because the actual plot is much more complex than that. Drawing in officials, police, foreigners, criminals, the story twists and turns its way to its conclusion, touching many of the profitable criminal enterprises and creating a fascinatingly tangled piece.(review by Lipglossmaffia)

COLLECTIONS

Sometimes a novel can be a lengthy commitment. If you’d like to read in bits and pieces. Then the poetry or short story collections below are ideal.

  • Stars of the New Curfew by Ben Okri is a collection of short stories that explore the central theme of the difficulty of standing one’s ground in a world where superstition, poverty and irresponsible use of power combine to destroy effective social bonds.
  • Funny Men Can’t Be Trusted by Tolu Akinyemi is a wondrous collection of short, witty poems about life, men, women relationships that you’ll end up loving.
  • What It Means When A Man Falls from the Sky by Leslie Nneka Arimah is a collection of recommended short stories. I still have this on my book stacks unread since I bought it in June. How time flies when you’re digitally immersed in ebooks.
  • A Thousand Beginnings and Endings Edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman. Its a collection of retold Asian legends and myths. It’s been delightful reading this. Its a reel into the folktale from India, China, all the way to the Philippines.

I hope this list is fresh, knowing, informative, encouraging to you. If you’d like to buy them visit Rovingheights, Alaroro Books, Book Peddler, Something Bookish on Instagram, they deliver across Nigeria. Or check out any nearby large supermarts like Ebeano supermart. If you’ve read any of the books on the list. Leave a rating and comment about it for other readers.

Thank you for reading Gemstone!

Image source: Opened Gifts by AmethystShotX

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